Last week a surprise email landed in the SparkCC inbox. It was from the good people at Aleph Objects, makers of the award-winning LulzBot line of 3D printers. Aleph Objects recently opened a shiny new fulfillment centre in Sydney and were kindly offering to donate a LulzBot TAZ 5 to the 'space to see what wonderful creations the Sparkers might produce with it.

We deliberated long and hard... before replying with a hearty "HELL YES!".

Sure enough a few days later a promisingly-large box arrived on our doorstep:

SparkCC VP Hannes showed enormous restraint in not opening the box and assembling it right there on the spot. Instead we waited until our regular Tuesday evening meetup when the other Sparkers could bask in the glow of the unboxing and assembly.

Upon opening the box we were greeted with a helpful set of instructions. These would walk us through the entire process of unpacking and assembling the TAZ 5, installing CURA and running our very first print.

Gosh this was exciting...

The helpful instruction booklet was just one example of the attention to detail that made the TAZ 5 stand out from the crowd of other printers we've set up in the past.

Also included was a checklist run by Ryan at Lulzbot HQ indicating that the printer had been thoroughly checked, tested and calibrated before shipping (thanks Ryan!). We were also pleasantly surprised by a Lulzbot toolkit containing everything a 3D print engineer could ever need as well as an SD card full of gcode and of course the LulzBot Octopus test print Ryan had run to confirm our TAZ 5 was ready to roll:

One of the most impressive things about the TAZ 5 is the number of 3D printed parts that make up the printer. Aleph Objects are a company with a strong commitment to Open Source Hardware and Software and we were impressed that even fundamental parts such as the extruder were 3D printed to great effect:

Without further ado it was time to clear out the remnants of Ryan's test print and load up the length of yellow test filament that was included in the box:

After levelling the print bed, plugging in the included SD card and locating the LulzBot Octopus file we were ready to go. After an impromptu drum roll and a quick countdown we pulled the trigger and... BAM!

The TAZ 5 printed both quickly and beautifully. The quality of this printer's engineering was clearly evident as we watched it lay down the first few layers of our Octopus. The print head just danced...

Special mention has to go to the TAZ 5 print bed. Not only is it huge with a print volume of 298mm x 275mm x 250mm but it also boasts a PEI print surface that our print stuck to perfectly without painter's tape or a messy layer of glue stick.

The TAZ 5 doesn't just print cleanly, it also prints fast. We didn't have to wait long before our new yellow octopus took shape and was able to join his pale friend. Remember that this was our very first print with absolutely no calibration whatsoever. A refreshing change from our usual experience with new printers...

The TAZ 5 is a hugey welcone addition to the SparkCC print farm that will enable our makers to run bigger, faster and more ambitious prints than ever before.

A huge thanks to Chelsea and all at Aleph Objects for such a generous donation to our makerspace. We look forward to creating and sharing all of the awesome projects the Sparkers produce with this amazing printer!

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